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Volume 2, No. 2 - Spring 2001
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE AESTHETICS SYMPOSIUM
A discussion of Ayn Rand's philosophy of art inspired by
Louis Torres and Michelle Marder Kamhi's book,
What Art Is: The Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand.
This is the first comprehensive scholarly forum on Rand's aesthetics ever published.
INTRODUCTION, pp. 251-52
WHAT ART DOES, pp. 253-63
LESTER HUNT argues that, despite its being too narrow in the topics it treats, Louis Torres and Michelle Marder Kamhi's What Art Is offers a fascinating account of Ayn Rand's views on art and, in addition, constitutes a major contribution to Objectivist aesthetics.
WHAT ART IS: WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE?, pp. 265-90
JEFF RIGGENBACH maintains that Torres and Kamhi's What Art Is adds to our understanding of Rand's key aesthetic concepts and is particularly valuable for the writings by other thinkers that it brings to bear on Rand's ideas. It is, however, remiss in failing to include any discussion of Stephen C. Pepper and in failing to discern the true importance of Susanne K. Langer's works for a fuller understanding of Rand's aesthetics. It errs also in its discussion of music, photography, and cinema. Though unnecessarily marred by flawed copyediting, it is an important work.
NORDAU'S DEGENERATION AND TOLSTOY'S WHAT IS ART? STILL LIVE, pp. 291-97
GENE H. BELL-VILLADA argues that What Art Is, by Torres and Kamhi, opens with a useful exposition of Rand's aesthetic theories. Unfortunately, once that task is completed, the book becomes mostly a rant against the twentieth century avant-garde, with little in the way of suggested alternatives. Though they offer a causal explanation for Modernism as the product of its practitioners' schizophrenia, they make no attempt at a socio-historical accounting for the emergence and triumph of vanguard art. Their dislike of the bleakness of much Modernist literature shows a lack of understanding of the dark times in which its authors lived.
CRITICAL MISINTERPRETATIONS AND MISSED OPPORTUNITIES:
ERRORS AND OMISSIONS BY KAMHI AND TORRES, pp. 299-310
ROGER E. BISSELL points out scholarly and ahistorical lapses in Kamhi and Torres's Journal of Ayn Rand Studies essay, "Critical Neglect of Ayn Rand's Theory of Art" (Fall 2000). He argues that they have misrepresented and neglected the views of others, and have inaccurately depicted the extent to which his own essays liken and contrast music with the other arts. Bissell criticizes their failure to acknowledge Rand's "microcosm" view of art as "re-creation of reality," which is fundamentally at odds with the Kamhi-Torres perspective.
RAND'S AESTHETICS: A PERSONAL VIEW, pp. 311-34
JOHN HOSPERS endeavors to relate his thoughts on philosophy of art to those of Ayn Rand, both in her published work and in discussions he had with her. In such areas as artistic creativity, artistic expression, representation, the role of feelings in art, truth and knowledge in the arts, sense of life, beauty, and aesthetic value, Hospers describes his agreements and disagreements with Rand.
REASONING ABOUT ART, pp. 335-40
DAVID KELLEY discusses the relationship between philosophy and sense of life and explains why he and William Thomas do not consider sense of life essential to the explanation of why art is a major human value, though it is essential to explaining how people create and experience art. Kelley also challenges the claim by Kamhi and Torres (in their article, "Critical Neglect of Ayn Rand's Theory of Art," Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, Fall 2000) that aesthetics, as a branch of philosophy, is logically prior to ethics and on a par with epistemology in fundamentality.
ART: WHAT A CONCEPT, pp. 341-59
JOHN ENRIGHT examines difficulties in Rand's concept of art, particularly in light of fundamental issues raised about architecture by Torres and Kamhi in their book, What Art Is. Neither architecture nor music presents a "re-creation" in the narrow sense of the term. Rand insists at times that art cannot involve utilitarian function, but elsewhere sees such functions as compatible with aesthetic effect. Enright argues for the aesthetic power of architecture. In evaluating an alternative definition of art, he views the concept as invaluable to our understanding of a profound human need.
GUGGENHEIMS AND GRAND CANYONS, pp. 361-82
BARRY VACKER argues that Torres and Kamhi's What Art Is seems destined to become the seminal explication of Randian aesthetics. But the authors conflate a psychology of art with a philosophy of aesthetics, and, in so doing, embrace several aesthetic divides that have plagued modern arts and culture: art versus beauty, art versus material function, and order versus chaos. What Art Is presents a theory of aesthetics that is inherently anti-aesthetic, ultimately seeking to preserve a past order against the chaotic future.
ON METAPHYSICAL VALUE-JUDGMENTS, pp. 383-86
MICHAEL NEWBERRY argues that, contrary to Rand, Torres and Kamhi (authors of What Art Is) do not recognize the connections between major art forms and the metaphysical questions they seek to answer. Many of the authors' conclusions, including their re-definition of Rand's concept of art, are based on a negation of these connections. But such links are crucial to Rand's concept of metaphysical value-judgments; Newberry provides examples in support of Rand's view.
THE PUZZLE OF MUSIC AND EMOTION IN RAND'S AESTHETICS, pp. 387-94
RANDALL R. DIPERT argues that, at first glance, Rand's view of representational arts, such as literature and the visual arts, might seem to have little applicability to pure music. Nevertheless, Rand took music without words as a serious art form, and struggled to develop a plausible theory of music. As Torres and Kamhi note in What Art Is, Rand's approach probably contradicted certain elements of her full aesthetic theory. But her theory of music and its relationship to emotions offers some fascinating suggestions that accord with--and in some respects go beyond--the best recent thinking in musical aesthetics.
THE BENEFITS AND HAZARDS OF DIALECTICAL LIBERTARIANISM, pp. 395-448
RODERICK T. LONG reviews Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism, the long-awaited final volume of Chris Matthew Sciabarra's "Dialectics and Liberty" trilogy. Long finds Total Freedom to be an impressive scholarly achievement that makes a compelling case for the existence of, and the need to further promote, affinities between the seemingly disparate intellectual traditions of libertarianism and dialectics. However, Long argues that Sciabarra's neglect of certain crucial distinctions vitiates to some extent his case for dialectics, his critique of Murray Rothbard's anarchism, and his application of the Objectivist theory of abstraction to the problem of internal relations.
REPLY TO JOHNSON AND RASMUSSEN:
ANOTHER LOOK AT ABORTION, pp. 449-56
TIBOR R. MACHAN argues that Gregory R. Johnson and David Rasmussen (in "Rand on Abortion: A Critique," Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, Spring 2000) are mistaken to claim that Rand should have embraced the pro-life position on the issue of a woman's right to seek an abortion. Rand believed that a fetus is only a potential, not an actual, human being. So killing a fetus is not homicide, any more than killing a seed would be the killing of a flower. Machan's alternative view of abortion is within the spirit of Rand's position, while escaping Johnson and Rasmussen's criticisms.
REPLY TO JOHNSON AND RASMUSSEN:
RAND THE MODERATE, pp. 457-67
ALEXANDER TABARROK argues that Gregory Johnson and David Rasmussen (in their essay, "Rand on Abortion: A Critique," Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, Spring 2000) misconstrue Rand's theory of individual rights and her position on abortion. Rand's views fit neatly within her Aristotelian philosophic framework. Moreover, Tabarrok defends Rand's views on the family as reasonable and well within the feminist mainstream.
REJOINDER TO MACHAN AND
RAND ON ABORTION, REVISITED, pp. 469-85
GREGORY R. JOHNSON and DAVID RASMUSSEN defend their critique of Ayn Rand's views on abortion, arguing that their critics miss its main points. Tibor Machan and Alexander Tabarrok actually depart from Rand's own position under the guise of defending it; they introduce a non-Randian distinction between being a human organism and being a moral person.
VOL. 2, NO. 2:
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